by Jonathan Travelstead

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(Come on sign, any sign)

Eighteen. Primed for contact. Prone to messages I believed
hailed me from the stars, I kickstarted my Honda & spooled out
over Illinois' chaff dust. Doglegged abandoned coal roads.

Numbed my wrist from choking the throttle on Orient No. 2,
then Old Ben where conveyors spanning the road were fuselages
of rockets silhouetting the sky. Rusted silos, omens someone

was coming for me. I thought my clutch could unpin their ignition,
so I shielded my eyes for launch. Thought believe harder
& the gray bodies from my dreams

(Come on sign, any sign)

would sway into existence just beyond my instrument gauge's
green glow. Astral dogs, baying my name from the colossus crane
I motored past, amniotic with grease. Twenty-stories tall,

the dragline's boom tent-poled the sky, its pool-sized bucket
barely holding the earth down. Common monsters calling me through
oxide, through clay. Unable to wait,

(Come on sign, any sign)

I cut the engine & headlight. Nightblinded then by
a bumrush of stars blaring their songs to me, I let go the handlebars. 
Helmet craned to sky, I gathered the night close as if an enigma

might be clearly seen on the keyhole’s other side. Spark of meteor.
The fiery rune scrawled over soy field told me they'd come
for me. I downshifted towards light which rippled

the fieldlike fabric. Witness accounts said I would freeze.
Be tractored in. Wake in the stubblefields. None of that happened.
I only motored through watery, blinding light,

(Come on sign, any sign)

emerging into a fishtailed warble, dumping five hundred pounds
of motorcycle as I ground to a stop. Twenty years. It's been
twenty years & I haven't changed. I'm still peeling chat gravel

from road rash. Waiting for tomorrow's newfangled geegaw
that will let me reenact my attempt at ascension, assuming this time
it will be different. Every day I curse my stupid,

(Come on sign, any sign)

lonely need to be saved by something beyond this world.
I curse Michelangelo's painting of God & Adam. I curse myself
& I curse you for how close we think we come,

but then just fall short of brushing the celestial when its robes
dip low, draw close enough to touch, then lift away again.
Left behind by the holy which it seems is always leaving us,

not read to connect with the stars.

(Come on sign, any sign)


end of story

© 2019, Jonathan Travelstead

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